‘Don’t criticise communities who refuse to be integrated’
Seven days ago, Dame Louise Casey, above, published a community report which called on Brits to do more to challenge ‘regressive, divisive and harmful cultural and religious practices’.
In reference to what she found in some predominantly Muslim areas, Casey wrote in “A Review into Opportunity and Integration“:
I’ve met far too many women who are suffering from the effects of misogyny and domestic abuse, women being subjugated by their husbands and extended families. Often, the victims are foreign-born brides brought to Britain via arranged marriages. They have poor English, little education, low confidence, and are reliant on their husbands for their income and immigration status.
They don’t know about their rights, or how to access support, and struggle to prepare their children effectively for school.
The Muslim Council of Britain reacted immediately – but not with outrage, as one might expect. Harun Khan, Secretary General of the MCB, above, said:
Any initiative that facilitates better integration of all Britons should be welcomed, and we certainly endorse the few, fair and supportable suggestions proposed by the Casey Review. This includes the promotion of the English language, sharing of best practice across the nation and a range of measures to tackle exclusion, inequality and segregation in school placements.
And while we agree that forced marriages, FGM, honour based killings and other practices have no place in modern Britain, we would argue that our faith tradition can be deployed to tackle what are essentially cultural practices.
The outrage, instead, came from Guardian commentator Giles Fraser, who attacked the the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, for taking he same line as Casey. He quoted Javid as saying:
For too long, too many people in this country have been living parallel lives, refusing to integrate and failing to embrace the shared values that make Britain great.
Javid, wrote, Fraser:
Is not the communities secretary, he is the anti-communities secretary. His approach reminds me of one of the great Star Trek villains: ‘We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile. The Borg have a hive mind, scouring the galaxy for people who think and live differently in order to subsume them into their own way of being. This is the essence of the Casey/Javid perspective …
Of course, the barely concealed target of Casey’s report is Muslims. They are serial offenders in their resistance to the hegemony of integration. They won’t allow the Borg-like values of secular liberalism to corrode their distinctiveness. They seek to maintain their religious convictions and way of life. They refuse all that nonsense about religion being a private matter. They stand strong against the elimination of diversity. And we are all immeasurably richer for their resistance.
Fraser began his piece by referring to a case in which a doctor discovered that one of his patients, a 20-year-old Orthodox Jew born and bred in the UK, spoke only a few very rudimentary words of English.
The language he speaks at home and at school is Yiddish. Some may be appalled by the insularity of the community in which this young man was raised. But I admire it. In particular, I admire the resilience of a community that seeks to maintain its distinctiveness and recognises, quite rightly, that assimilation into the broader culture would mean the gradual dilution, and the eventual extinction, of its own way of life.
It is no surprise to me that the ultra orthodox are thriving, with high birth rates and predictions that they will be constitute a majority of the Jewish population within 20 years. They have refused assimilation.
One commenter wrote:
If I had kept my son at home for well nigh 20 years and prevented him mixing with the wider community I would rightly be regarded as a rather deficient parent at the very least.
The idea that a high birth rate shows that the orthodox Jewish community is thriving is a rather narrow definition of thriving; even Darwin might have broader criteria for human beings. This piece is utter twaddle. The idea that small socially isolated communities are in any way desirable is foolish in the extreme. The result is a permanent state of mistrust of ‘the others’.